Vulnerabilities exposed

Ransomware and cyber fraud have been around for decades, but there has arguably never been a more vulnerable time for banks and their customers than now. The threat has proliferated and increased as access to malicious software has grown and bad actors have refined their sophistication in how they deploy it. The pandemic-induced shift to remote working and electronic communication and commerce compounds the risk. [Continue]

Ohnward in eastern Iowa

Despite the boom-bust cycles of the ag economy, a Walmart-driven retail migration from Main Street to the edge of town, factory closings and a devastating fire in the dead of winter, Maquoketa and DeWitt remain vibrant towns in eastern Iowa, largely due to engaged community leadership, including the bankers at Ohnward Bancshares. Leveraging local expertise and resources, the 11,000-some area residents sustain a hopeful future. [Continue]

Will banks catch up with cannabis legalization?

When Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, the plant was (and continues to be) illegal at the federal level. Yet several Colorado banks jumped in, quickly opening accounts. Many of those banks were promptly swarmed with U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents. Everyone from tellers to bank presidents were warned that by servicing the cannabis industry, they could be arrested and held criminally liable under federal law. Most banks quickly backed away. [Continue]

Tips to prevent, or respond to, a cyber intrusion

What can you do to prevent a ransomware attack? And what should you do if the attackers get in? At United Bankers’ Bank, Bloomington, Minn., employees use a biometric authenticator — a fingerprint reader, in this case — to log in. “It’s required whether I’m sitting here at my desk at home or whether I’m logging into the same network from my desk in the office,” said Barb Fugate. “We can’t be in too much of a hurry to accommodate remote work that we cut those corners. And I think for the most part banks have not.” [Continue]

Community banker takes his curiosity for a ride

Rich Jones wants his community to see him as a fun guy rather than a stuffy banker. To shape his persona, Jones, president and CEO of central Minnesota’s Randall State Bank, recruited a friend with a video camera to create “Around the Town,” a series of short documentaries highlighting community businesses, with Jones as raconteur.  [Continue]

Hey buddy, who are you calling fungible?

Join me now for another trip into the beyond, to the world of international mystery, art, crime, computers and (probably) robots. Did I mention crime? The latest head scratcher has come in the form of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). Out of nowhere come reports of individuals (Elon Musk’s girlfriend Grimes for instance), who are using NFTs to sell digital art. Though new, the value of these “tokens” is jaw-dropping. [Continue]

Don’t let perfection be a roadblock to progress

A fourth-generation community banker recently shared a piece of advice she got from her father. There are times and situations, he told her, when giving 80 percent is good enough. In our cover story this month, which bestows our first ever “Spirit of Community Banking” award on the second- and third-generation leadership team at Ohnward Bancshares, you’ll find an example of how a less than 100 percent effort was the ticket to success. [Continue]

Will the SAFE Banking Act break through the new Congress?

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate following previous introduction by the House of Representatives. The legislation, which would open the traditional banking system to cannabis-related businesses, has been a legislative pursuit since Colorado first legalized cannabis in 2012. Supporters of the bill applauded on March 19 when the House passed the Act, though similar legislation, passed the House in 2019, did not advance in the Senate. [Continue]

Strong digital strategy requires a human element

Now as we step fully into an age of remote work, digital transformation within the industry has accelerated and customers’ demands and expectations for digital banking services have increased. While implementing digitalization through internal technology sounds straightforward enough, bringing it to the consumer-facing level involves more of a balancing act.  [Continue]